Recent news reports and communication from OLGR tell us many business operators continue to struggle with their requirements regarding the collection of contact information. It is fair to say that everyone, customers, staff and business owners, is inconvenienced by the requirements regarding collection and storage of information. But, if Queenslanders want to avoid going back to living under lockdown, fast and effective contact tracing when an infection has been discovered is of critical importance, which has been highlighted by the recent resurgence of COVID-19 in Victoria and NSW. Additionally, the penalty for non-compliance is an on the spot fine of up to $6,672.
To help business owners meet their obligations, we have answered some common questions below and provided some guidance on the various methods of collection available.
How can you record the information?
Restrictions on Businesses, Activities and Undertakings Direction (No. 12) has been released and licensees must collect contact information electronically or they will automatically be:
- limited to 1 person per 4m² for indoor and outdoor areas; and
- limited to operation for seated patrons only.
If you choose to use a third-party option some questions to ask are:
Can you verify the information collected?
If the details entered by the patron are not preserved on their device (some services simply show an icon on the screen when the form has been submitted) and you do not receive a real time update on the information collected, it will be difficult to do this. OLGR has indicated that businesses ought to be doing spot checks on the accuracy of information.
Can you record the patron’s entry AND exit time?
If you have no access to the information provided, it will be impossible for you to record exit times.
If requested by Queensland Health, can you provide contact information for a specific period in a timely manner?
Some services require up to 24 hours to provide a report, but the expectation is that details will be provided to a public health officer within one hour.
Other considerations include the ongoing cost to you and the reliability of the provider – if they go out of business or become unreachable, you may lose the information.
Other Electronic Methods
Depending on the nature of your business, you may wish to have staff collect details using a tablet or computer. Whilst this is labour intensive, if done correctly it eliminates many of the issues with other methods.
What if the patron does not have a smart phone or there is an internet outage?
If electronic collection is impossible you may record the details on paper but you must transfer them to your electronic system within 24 hours. It is advisable to have a tablet or computer available at all times to accommodate patrons who do not have a smart phone.
Whose information needs to be collected?
Contact information must be collected from all visitors to your business. which includes:
- Every person in a group of patrons
- All contractors
However, you do not need to collect contact details from people who visit the business to pick up takeaway food or drinks.
What information needs to be collected?
The following information must be collected:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Period of visit/patronage – this requires you to record the date and arrival time, along with the departure time or approximate duration of the visit
Whilst it is appreciated that there are difficulties in recording the time someone leaves the premises, the feedback from OLGR and Police is that business operators must do their best to collect the information. In our view, ‘doing your best’ would include at least the following:
- Ensuring that whatever system you have in place provides patrons with the opportunity to indicate the intended duration of their stay, or the time they intend leaving or similar. We know that some venues have a second register available for patrons to simply indicate their name and the time as they leave. With the move to mandatory electronic record keeping, paper versions are no longer acceptable.
- Obvious signage stating that the law requires the venue to collect contact tracing information that includes the period of the visit.
- Ensuring staff receive proper instructions in relation to this requirement and are actively directing patrons to provide contact information.
How long must you keep the information?
The information must be securely stored for at least 30 days and must be deleted with 56 days.
Can you use the information for marketing?
Information collected must not be used for marketing or any other purpose.
Updated on 7 August 2020 to include the latest information from OLGR and Queensland Health.
Updated on 22 December 2020 to remove reference to paper based collection methods and on 23 December 2020 following the release of the updated PHD.